20 June 2013 Still hot
Off around the park listening to the Navy Lark, Captain Povey moves house. He loses hia little purse with the £15 removal money in it and has to hire Nunky, and Leslie, needless to say the deliver the wrong furniture to the wrong house ove and over again. Priceless.
Another quiet day We totter around and water the garden sort the plants fight the Russian vine and sweep the drive.
We watch The Pallaisers Pallaoiser is made PM, Cora renovates the castle.
I win at scrabble and I get over 400 perhaps she can have her revenge tomorrow.
Ruairi O’Bradaigh, who has died aged 80, was an unrelenting opponent of British rule in Northern Ireland and on two occasions led splits in Sinn Fein against the party softening its line.
Ruairi O’Bradaigh with Gerry Adams at a Sinn Fein conference in London in 1983 Photo: PA
7:00PM BST 19 Jun 2013
Twice chief of staff of the IRA between 1958 and 1962, president of Provisional Sinn Fein from 1970 to 1983 and of Republican Sinn Fein from 1987 to 2009, O’Bradaigh was a lifelong hardliner. When in 1969 the Official leadership in Dublin refused armed support to Catholic communities in the North as the “Troubles” erupted, O’Bradaigh led a walkout to form the Provisionals. And when 17 years later Gerry Adams’s readiness to join the peace process brought a vote by Sinn Fein to end “abstentionism” and take its seats in the Dail, he led a further breakaway to form Republican Sinn Fein, opposing the peace process to the end.
But despite O’Bradaigh’s refusal to contemplate anything less than British withdrawal, he at critical moments sanctioned or took part in contacts with the British. Indeed, he was regarded in London as a man of his word, and could even weigh in to limit the damage from reckless ventures, telling the captors of the Dutch industrialist Tieder Herrema in 1975 that their action served “no useful purpose”.
Gerry Adams rated O’Bradaigh “quite liberal on social and economic matters”. Yet he could be callous in the extreme, describing the shooting of a baby during an IRA attack as “one of the hazards of urban guerrilla warfare”.
Peter Roger Casement Brady was born at Longford on October 2 1932 to strongly Republican middle-class parents; his father, Matt Brady, had been wounded in 1919 in a shoot-out with the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Ruairi, as he soon styled himself, was educated at St Mel’s College, Longford, and University College, Dublin, graduating in 1954. When not behind bars, he taught Irish at a school in Roscommon.
O’Bradaigh joined Sinn Fein in 1950, and next year the IRA. In 1955 he led a raid on barracks near Arborfield, Berkshire, securing the IRA’s largest ever arms haul on the British mainland . The weapons were recovered soon after and some of the unit arrested, but O’Bradaigh got away.
That December O’Bradaigh took part in an attack on police barracks at Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, in which an RUC officer was killed. Arrested in the Republic, he was jailed for six months for failing to account for his activities.
While in jail in 1957, he was elected to the Dail for Longford-Westmeath. O’Bradaigh refused to take his seat; at the 1961 election his vote collapsed. On his release, he was interned at the Curragh. In September 1958 he escaped, cutting through the perimeter fence during a football match.
Weeks later he was appointed IRA Chief of Staff, holding the position — punctuated by a spell in prison — until the autumn of 1962. He stood down after announcing the end of hostilities along the Border. In 1966 he polled 10,370 votes in Fermanagh and South Tyrone as an Independent Republican.
O’Bradaigh tried at a crucial Ard Fheis (party conference) in January 1970 to persuade the leadership to “defend” nationalist communities against Loyalist attack. His argument rejected, he led a walkout to become de facto leader of the “Provisionals”.
Elected president of Provisional Sinn Fein, he developed the goal of a federal Ireland, with each province having its own parliament (and Ulster’s potentially a Protestant majority). In August 1971 Reginald Maudling, Home Secretary, barred him from mainland Britain.
That November, he was preparing to meet six Conservative MPs in Dublin when the whips intervened. The following March O’Bradaigh had his first contact with a British representative — a Stormont MP and former army officer. This led to Harold Wilson and Merlyn Rees — then in opposition — meeting Provisional leaders in Dublin (in 1976 Rees would have O’Bradaigh expelled from Northern Ireland, only for him to defy the order).
Released after six months in the Curragh, O’Bradaigh testified to a US Senate committee about the treatment of IRA prisoners. In December 1974 the Provisional leadership met leaders of Ireland’s Protestant churches at Feakle, Co Clare. When the IRA called a Christmas ceasefire, O’Bradaigh had talks with British officials leading to an open-ended truce. It broke down , but he had a first formal meeting soon after with British contacts. At the end of 1976 O’Bradaigh met Loyalists at their request, to see how their proposals for an independent Ulster could mesh with Sinn Fein’s formula.
From Gerry Adams’ election as vice-president of Sinn Fein in 1978, friction grew between its old and new generations. By 1983 O’Bradaigh was only its nominal leader, and Adams “reluctantly” made his move. O’Bradaigh went under protest; a serious car accident soon afterward further weakened his position.
He and his supporters formed Republican Sinn Fein, with the Continuity IRA (secret until 1996) its military wing. He scorned Sinn Fein’s engagement in all-party talks, condemned the Good Friday Agreement as a British confidence trick, and said the IRA’s decommissioning while British troops remained on Irish soil was “the worst sell-out yet”.
By 2009, when he retired as president of Republican Sinn Fein, the Continuity IRA had attracted a number of dissidents from the peace process. O’Bradaigh’s parting shot was to denounce as a “turncoat” McGuinness, who as Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister had condemned the killers of two British soldiers as “traitors”.
Ruairi O’Bradaigh is survived by his wife, Patsy, and six children.
Ruairi O’Bradaigh, born October 2 1932, died June 5 2013
Nev Wilshire’s call centres have been fined £225k by the information commissioner (Report, 19 June). This is intriguing to compare with some other sanctions on corporate offenders lately. Recently, BAE was fined £250k over the death of a worker, Gary Whiting. This represented around 0.00014% of its profit for the year he died. Put another way, it is equivalent to someone on £25k being fined £3.50. That is not a punishment. In 2008, BAE was penalised £30m for “serious financial irregularity” by the Serious Fraud Office. It appears that in the UK, a life is worth 1/120th as much as is financial probity. The Ministry of Justice is soon to launch a consultation on sentencing for safety crimes. This is clearly overdue, but it is an opportunity for interested parties to make a clear statement that corporate killing must be punished appropriately. If cold calling is worth a £225k fine, a death must be worth significantly more. If a death is worth £250k, financial impropriety must not be worth £30m.
Europe’s trash into cash but fuel concern over the future of recycling, 15 June). Domestic recycling rates continue to improve and while most local authorities now collect plastic bottles at the kerbside, some waste companies are still sending huge volumes of this plastic resource abroad rather than having it processed here. This is supported by the incentives they receive via the government’s PRN credit system. If this material stayed in the UK, it would reduce our imports of virgin raw materials and would create sorting and reprocessing jobs in the UK. Reports have suggested more than 50,000 new UK jobs would be created if 70% of waste collected by councils was recycled here in the UK.
We strongly support free trade but are merely asking for a fairer system by a review of the existing set-up, which financially supports the export of materials rather than domestic recycling. The problem is exacerbated by poorly sorted materials being illegally exported, yet still gaining a 100% PRN credit – the system is broken and needs urgent attention. This issue is a real-world interface between economics and the environment. As it currently stands, British packaging companies are subsidising the export of valuable recyclate which should be going back into UK packaging and back on the shelves of UK retailers. The results are less British infrastructure, fewer British jobs and greater reliance on unreliable international markets. Legislation needs to change to rectify this.
It seems absurd that the PRN system provides a higher payment for exports than it does for domestically processed materials. This was not an intended consequence but a result of the legislators and the recycling industry understanding the market dynamics of this immature but growing sector. We and our industry colleagues will continue to raise the issue. We hope to gain wider support and go beyond the environmental channels, and raise it at Treasury and business level.
CEO, Closed Loop Recycling
• Waste should be seen as a resource. I have never understood why some green groups in the UK oppose energy from waste, when the real issue is the astonishingly high amount of waste – nearly half – the UK still sends to landfill. Scandinavian countries have, for years, recycled a high proportion of waste. However, instead of leaving the remainder of their waste to rot, the Nordic cities have the good sense to use most of it to make heat and power for the benefit of their local community. There are only a few cities like this in the UK, a notable example being Sheffield.
Deputy director, Combined Heat and Power Association
• I feel strongly that you have neglected a major issue of waste PFIs which are still being pushed through (or being fought by local residents at the 11th hour). They threaten council budgets – some of which are already sinking under an existing PFI. This situation would surely be news if, instead of incinerators, there were many giant hospitals planned when there were already empty beds in all the other ones and Europe was offering to treat the patients at half the cost.
We now know that ministers, and their staff and colleagues, have almost limitless access to information (Report, 17 June). Yet our financial system came within hours of collapse, and on a lesser scale the Libor rate was rigged for years. We invade countries on evidence that turns out to be incorrect. Multinational companies and the rich conceal their wealth. And always from those in charge, the echo from Fawlty Towers: “I know nothing.” Couldn’t we get our spies to do something socially useful instead of just checking up on our friends? Do we have too much of the wrong sort of information?
• William Hague may believe that “the innocent have nothing to fear” (Britain’s response to the NSA story: back off and shut up, 19 June) from the NSA knowing whom he is contactingby phone, email and Skype, but would he be quite so blase if his correspondence were being monitored by the security services of Russia, North Korea, Syria or Azerbaijan?
Fr Julian Dunn
• Could G4S take over the functions of GCHQ? The coalition would get more privatisation and, judging by past performance, citizens of the UK would be less effectively spied on – everybody wins.
• I note your centre-page photo (Eyewitness, 19 June) of the feckless unemployed on a day out at a race meeting. Surely some of them have been passed as fit for work by Atos?
Denby Dale, West Yorkshire
• Do I need a thermometer to be sure that my ready meals are piping hot (Letters, 19 June)?
• It’s all very well to complain about an absence of “single whammys”, but we are always hearing about “one iota”. Do iotas never come in groups?
• And still they come. Oh well, I better take this golden opportunity…
Panorama’s Elderly Care: Condition Critical? was not, as Martin Green of the Community Care Association, alleges, “sensationalist” (Not a full or balanced picture, Society, 19 June). The programme revealed that a significant number of care home providers have been failing to report deaths to the national regulator, which could mean that poor care is not identified when problems develop.
Our programme and the supporting analysis of Professor Brian Jarman of Imperial College London has helped to prompt the Care Quality Commission to this week announce a change in its practices. The commission now plans to monitor death rates in care homes and eradicate the “blind spots” in its mortality data by requiring care providers to adhere to their lawful requirement to report deaths of all registered residents.
The programme also featured examples of good care, explaining that the CQC has found that nearly two-thirds of homes are compliant with the essential standards. In relation to our Winterbourne View programme, Green asks how journalists could “sit there for six to eight weeks, watching that level of abuse”. He is wrong to suggest our undercover journalist did not intervene during incidents of ill-treatment. His actions brought to an end a number of these incidents, including some shown in the programme. By documenting these, the programme revealed a culture of abuse at the hospital which led to the convictions of 11 care workers, the closure of the home and a serious case review.
The aim of these programmes was to highlight the mistreatment of some of the most vulnerable people in societyand to raise awareness about the need for better protection for them. Green’s interview will have served to remind regulators, concerned staff and relatives of an attitude to criticism inside parts of the care industry. If legitimate and repeated concerns about the treatment of patients and residents had been addressed then none of the Panoramas he refers to would have been necessary.
Alastair Crooke (The Red Line is not crossed, 17 June) asks the right question: “Will arming the opposition make the situation for the Syrian people better, or will it lead to more bloodshed?” However, he obscures the answer by turning to statistics about the volume of small arms allegedly provided to opposition groups when the key issue is the regime’s persistent deployment of heavy weaponry against civilian populations.
The significance of this is demonstrated by an analysis of the data collected by the Centre for Documentation of Violations in Syria: of the 11,000 deaths of women and children it has documented thus far in the conflict, some 7,500 have died as a result of regime aerial bombardment and shelling of their towns and neighbourhoods. Measures which would limit the regime’s freedom to casually use heavy weapons in this fashion would certainly “make the situation for the Syrian people better”.
• Your leading article (Editorial, 19 June) fails to mention that it was Cairo, not Tehran, which made a bad situation worse. On the same day the US announced its decision to arm the rebels, a conclave of Sunni clerics in Cairo sanctified jihad against the Shias and Hezbollah, thereby turning the Syrian conflict from a war of liberation into a war between Muslim sects.
If the west chooses to arm the rebels at this critical juncture, it will be entering, albeit indirectly, the Syrian conflict on the side of the Sunnis, although it was Sunnis, not Shias, who carried out the 9/11 and subsequent acts of terrorism against the west.
Shia Iran now has a reformist president, who wants to re-establish relations with the west. Perhaps it is time that the west, instead of plunging into Syria’s sectarian quagmire, engaged President Hassan Rouhani and let him spell out his rapprochement plan, if any.
Randhir Singh Bains
Gants Hill, Essex
• David Cameron says everyone wants a new government in Syria. No they do not. Everyone wants peace in Syria, even if that means Bashar al-Assad staying in place. Cameron should be leading an all-out effort to ensure that the planned Geneva peace conference is a success. If it does not succeed, the next step should be a redoubling of diplomatic efforts, not their abandonment.
Our government, by blocking the involvement of Iran in peace negotiations, pushing for arming the rebels, backing unnecessary preconditions about the role of Assad and generally treating him with contempt, has greatly damaged the prospects for a peaceful resolution of this catastrophe in Syria.
• The prime minister is right to acknowledge that we’re in it for the long haul on Syria, which has prompted the largest single funding commitment ever made by the UK in response to a humanitarian disaster. But the urgent focus needs to be on the many Syrians simply unable to access humanitarian aid in any form.
Doctors of the World runs centres in Lebanon and Jordan and, although we also have medics inside Syria, we are often powerless to help many Syrians because cross-border assistance is prohibited for opposition-controlled areas. Assistance is sometimes allowed via Damascus but this can often be dangerous due to geography and the quagmire of checkpoints and bureaucracy. Yes, Syrians need aid but we must ensure they can benefit from it and not just those in government-controlled areas.
Doctors of the World (Médecins du Monde) UK
• Surely the “red line” that Assad has crossed in Obama’s eyes is his regaining control of Syria. Those of us who are old enough to remember WMD in Iraq are not taken in by the sarin claim.
• It may be an old-fashioned concept, but surely it is up to the Syrian people to decide who their government is, not Vladimir Putin or any other members of the self-selecting G8.
It is baffling and disappointing to us, as people who have suffered some of the worst press abuses of recent years, that the Guardian suddenly appears ready to surrender to the manipulations of press corporations responsible for many of those abuses (In praise of… Michael Grade, 19 June). Your newspaper, which did more than any other institution to bring those corporations to book, is advocating a delay that plays directly into their hands.
Before us is a hard-won opportunity: a draft royal charter that is based on the recommendations of the Leveson inquiry, approved by every party in parliament and backed by public opinion and by victims of abuses such as ourselves. After seven inquiries into the press in 70 years we are closer than ever to an effective, independent press self-regulation scheme that will protect the public and at the same time protect freedom of expression. This is in large part a consequence of having victims properly represented for the first time by the campaign group Hacked Off.
Yet the Guardian now calls for further compromise, even though the charter already contains many concessions to press demands. You urge more negotiation with proprietors and editors who have learned nothing and shown no contrition, and who have consistently rejected compromise. You complain of drift when the only drift is caused by them, in their desperation to defy parliament and sabotage the charter. The surest consequence of the delay you propose will the kind of shady fix we have seen so many times before, and so we will be left at best with another sham self-regulator no better than the Press Complaints Commission.
Please do not allow this to happen. The judge has spoken, parliament has spoken and the polls indicate that your readers favour a Leveson-based outcome. Don’t lose your nerve now.
Sheila Hollins, Christopher Jefferies, Ian Hurst, Jacqui Hames, HJK, Ben Jackson, Mike Hollingsworth, Alex Best, Ed Blum, Sky Andrew, Tricia Cooklin
One factor which seems to have been missed in the debate about the fall in applications to Russell Group universities from state school pupils and poor students is the huge increase in pupils choosing to attend a local university.
This has been particularly noticeable over the past decade, and when questioned students invariably cite cost, as they can choose to live at home if money is or becomes tight. In two local selective schools, up to 40 per cent of pupils now elect to attend local universities and colleges. Although the Russell Group is pretty well represented geographically, there are large areas of the country where this is not the case.
It is particularly sad that a kind of parochialism and social apartheid founded on cost has crept into the university system, as two fundamental advantages of the university experience are being lost: first, the chance to mix with a wide range of students from different geographical areas and backgrounds; second, the opportunity for students to become socially mature and independent by taking responsibility for themselves at an early age.
J R Whelan, Bebington, Wirral
G8 fails to get tough with tax avoiders
The pledges made on tax avoidance at the G8 summit have come under fire. What did anyone expect of the G8? Words. Not a penny more in tax will be paid by Amazon or any of the other companies who operate intricate webs of offshore companies to avoid tax.
As an independent bookshop owner, and the originator of the petition calling on Amazon to pay its fair share of tax (which now has 169,000 signatures ), I realise that there is only one solution. And that is for HMRC to stop pussyfooting about with big business and start calling the shots. All they need to do is start with the premise that Amazon does have a permanent establishment in the UK, and that it is therefore liable to pay Corporation Tax. What could be simpler? Why are they not laying down the rules instead of seemingly letting big business dictate?
Margaret Hodge as head of HMRC?
Keith Smith, Warwick
I don’t get why we need international assistance to enable us to tax profits generated here in the UK.
We don’t need help collecting VAT or business rates from businesses here, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs already operates a scheme where businesses can pay a fixed percentage of their turnover to cover their corporation tax liabilities.
All we need do is say, “Profit here, tax here.” Surely we don’t need international organisation, taking years to enforce, to do something that simple.
Shahriyar saeb-noori, Torquay
What was to be achieved by the G8 leaders studiedly dives ting themselves of their neckwear and becoming tieless in Fermanagh?
Did they think it looked impressive? Just ridiculously untidy, more like.
Roy Evans, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
No magic bullet for bovine TB
Your article on the pilot badger culls (19 June) fails to fully explain some of the key points around this emotive issue. Vaccination is not, and will not be, an instant cure for the problem of bovine tuberculosis. Everyone would like to see this terrible disease dealt with, but as the House of Commons environment committee said recently, vaccination is no magic bullet.
Farmers are fully supportive of the idea of vaccines for both badgers and cattle. But, unfortunately, there is no vaccine available to protect cattle, and best estimates from the European Commission suggest it will be 10 years before a licensed vaccine is available. This is not merely because the BCG vaccine interferes with the current TB cattle test. The vaccine’s effectiveness is totally unproven in UK field conditions. Similarly, vaccinating badgers is not a viable alternative at the moment either, since it is costly, logistically challenging and of no use at all if a badger already has TB.
There is no single simple solution to TB. But the best available scientific information, and the experience of other countries, shows that tackling it on all fronts at the same time, including controlling disease in wildlife, can have a significant impact. The possible effects of perturbation identified in the article can be countered by using hard boundaries such as roads and rivers. The fact that 50,000 badgers a year are killed in road accidents shows boundaries like these will help to stop badgers spreading the disease to other areas.
We appreciate that there are strong views on this issue, and British farmers are acutely sensitive to public opinion. But getting on top of this dreadful disease is an urgent priority for them and the British public. When presented with the full facts about TB, people understand that a targeted badger cull is a necessary part of a package of controls.
Tom Hind, Director of Corporate Affairs, National Farmers Union, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire
Assange digs in for a long stay
How encouraging to know that Julian Assange has the strength to endure his comfortable if cramped hiding place for as long as it takes, maybe for ever (report, 18 June). The taxpayers of both Ecuador and Britain surely won’t begrudge the huge cost of this, in the interests of upholding his human rights.
No doubt Bradley Manning won’t begrudge him the opportunity to escape the consequences of his actions, while Bradley faces the full force of the law.
As for the Swedish women whose accusations of sexual assault remain unanswered, well they of course will realise that any violation of their rights is as nothing compared with the desperate situation of the unfortunate Julian.
“Truth and consequences” was a popular game when I was a child, but apparently not one that Julian Assange ever played. No principled campaigner here: he did what he did because he could, not as a serious, principled act of truth-telling; and now he probably wishes he hadn’t.
Paula Jones, London SW20
Block paedophile porn at source
While the measures being proposed by the Government to block paedophile websites are laudable, I have a feeling that ministers still do not fully understand how the internet works.
Where internet access has been filtered or blocked in countries, during uprisings and civil unrest, the “rebels” often find ways of connecting and spreading their side of the story. These methods are available for evil as well as good intentions; the technology is neutral.
While the casual searches for this material will hopefully be blocked, it will not stop those who really want it. The only real way of preventing this material being available is to stop it at source.
This is where the foreign aid budget could really help. Funding law enforcement in countries where the pictures are created and uploaded will help far more than trying to plug all the possible ways of downloading the images in this country.
Sean Mulcahy, Caerphilly
Lane-changing for the planet
Your recent correspondence about middle-lane hogging causes me to wonder again about which is the best way to drive on motorways.
I try to be a good citizen and when I drive I limit my speed to reduce my carbon footprint. This means that I’m often in the slow lane between lorries. I wonder whether I then breath more of the pollution generated by the lorry in front of me, particularly more diesel particulates.
If to avoid this I go into to the middle lane and drive faster, however, I may be breathing cleaner air but I shall certainly be generating more pollution and increasing the cost of my journey.
Dennis Leachman, Reading
My local motorway is always so jam-packed with vehicles that the middle lane is usually the only option. Go in the left-hand lane and you’re chugging along at 50 with the trucks: go in the right-hand lane and you’ve got headlamp-flashing speed merchants on your rear bumper most of the time.
But my pet bugbear on motorways is the design fault that seems to affect mainly Mercedes, BMWs and Audis: their right-hand direction indicator never seems to work.
John Williams, West Wittering, West Sussex
Schools can’t trump parents
I must take exception to Gary Howse (letter, 15 June) when he blames the education system because a 17-year-old trainee at his firm couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed to come to work.
Wherever this lad went to school, his teachers would almost certainly have been the only adults in his life supporting and encouraging him to work hard, to gain good qualifications and to better himself. Alas, as every headteacher with a challenging intake knows to their cost, the complete lack of support and drive from the home background of a child can easily outweigh everything a school tries to do.
Please can we not blame schools for all of society’s ills?
Ben Warren, Headteacher, Summerhill School, Dudley, West Midlands
Andreas Whittam Smith has covered the Stuart Hall fiasco in style (19 June). The sentence of 15 months is obscene; an insult to the poor victims and an outrage to every thinking man and woman in the country. I just hope that the newspapers don’t allow this to slip into obscurity, and pressure will be sustained until the Attorney General acts to make the punishment realistic.
K Wheeler, Pembridge, Herefordshire
A moral principle for dealing with reckless bankers should be, “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The appropriate punishment is poverty, not a prison sentence (“Bosses of collapsed banks should be sent to jail”, 19 June). An individual deemed reckless by the regulator should forfeit the liability protection enjoyed by directors and controlling managers of companies.
Peter Brooker, West Wickham, Kent
FGM is not akin to GBH (letter, 18 June). Mercifully, the latter’s physical effects usually fade with time, although the psychological may endure longer. The physical effects of FGM last a lifetime.
Peter Lack, London N10
I assure Peter Tallentire (letter, 19 June) that here too there is a glory of buttercups and ox-eye daisies the like of which I’ve never before seen. It almost makes it worth having endured that apparently never-ending winter.
Sara Neill, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
‘The medical profession needs to stop using the term whiplash. It is too easy for busy GPs or inexperienced A&E doctors to accede to the diagnosis’
Sir, Whiplash does not exist (report, June 18). A few years ago a paper in The Surgeon, the journal of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, made the point that whiplash was an exclusively British condition. In other European countries there is no equivalent word and people claiming injury after rear-end collisions are diagnosed as having a stiff neck that will fully recover in days.
It is not impossible for bony or nerve injury to take place with sudden neck jerking but for these to occur in a car accident the impact needs to be substantial; in such cases there will be radiological evidence of fracture or neurological findings in the arm. People with either of these will usually be seen at hospital immediately after the incident. In the absence of fracture or nerve injury there are no findings on examination or investigation and any injury can be designated soft-tissue: unimportant, needing no treatment, no sickness certification, and with only short-lived symptoms.
Therefore 100 per cent of whiplash claims are bogus, a situation that is incompatible with the reported opinion of the chief executive of the Law Society that there are only a “tiny minority” of fraudulent claims.
The medical profession needs to be instructed to stop using the term whiplash. It is too easy for busy GPs or inexperienced A&E doctors to accede to the diagnosis. Once the word is in the notes lawyers have a far easier job making successful claims.
Furthermore, the Association of British Insurers needs to agree that whiplash is nonexistent, and that no assistance will be given to any policyholder to make such a claim.
Professor R. A. Wood
Former Consultant Physician, Abernethy, Perthshire
Sir, The assertion by James Dalton, head of motor insurance at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), that whiplash is “little different from a headache” is a slap in the face for the thousands of honest people who suffer long-lasting injuries in motor vehicle accidents each year.
The insurance industry has demonised whiplash victims for years, using them as a convenient scapegoat for rising premiums. This diverts attention from their ever-increasing profits and, critically, from the ongoing Competition Commission investigation into a motor insurance market described as “dysfunctional” by the chief executive of the Office of Fair Trading.
The Government contends that the creation of an independent medical panel will make it easier to reduce the number of fraudulent claims. This is not the case. Medical panels typically operate behind closed doors without the transparency or the public scrutiny afforded by the current judicial process. Such panels formed in other jurisdictions are often created on the basis that the victim has no right to review a decision.
We must take active steps to ensure that genuine victims feel confident that our justice system supports them and will treat them fairly. The Transport Committee’s current inquiry is an excellent opportunity to reflect the facts about whiplash, rather than simply furthering the insurance industry’s agenda. We must not penalise innocent victims for the sake of insurance industry profits.
Chief Operating Officer Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP
The country has been recognised as having made significant progress over the past 12 years by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights
Sir, Further to the letter “Colombia’s lawyers” (June 13), may I point out that human rights in Colombia have improved substantially over the past decade — as was recognised recently by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights which for the first time in 12 years did not include Colombia in its annual list of countries requiring special attention.
From his first day in office, President Juan Manuel Santos has shown his commitment to ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights in Colombia. His government has strengthened the agencies responsible for protecting the people and communities at risk as a result of their activities, including lawyers, prosecutors and judges.
The creation of the National Protection Unit is a key aspect of the national human rights strategy. By providing bodyguards, bulletproof cars, relocation and moving support, this newly created agency allocated in 2012 $107 million to protect more than 11,000 people in Colombia.
Today Colombia is at a crossroads. President Santos opened formal peace talks with the FARC guerrilla group last October in an effort to end the 50-year conflict. Yet we understand that the road to real and lasting peace is through the protection of human rights for all in Colombia.
Colombian Ambassador, London SW1
There would be long-term negative effects on our intellectual and financial economies if the study of further maths is not preserved
Sir, We are deeply concerned about the likely impact of current A-level reforms on mathematics. The subject’s rising popularity could be reversed by unintended consequences of reforms on maths in state and independent schools.
Maths is generally taught in a unique way. It is often setted, and accelerated. Unlike any other subject, A-level maths requires six papers, or modules, rather than four. It has two A levels: Maths, and the much harder Further Maths. Both exams, however, have the same A-level status.
Two consequences of change radically threaten Maths. First, conditional offers from top universities increasingly (and, in medicine, almost exclusively) recognise only A levels sat simultaneously. This discourages pupils from taking Maths early, and Further Maths at all.
Second, modules now occur only in June, not also in January. Students taking Double Maths therefore have fewer sessions, for their larger number of exams. A typical student taking Double Maths will take 12 exams in two sittings as opposed to four in two sittings for a single subject; and this load can no longer be spread. This weight of examining will deter still more pupils from studying Further Maths.
We urge ministers to preserve the study of Further Maths, perhaps by awarding it a different name, status or structure. Long-term negative effects on our intellectual and financial economies are otherwise inevitable.
Peter Hamilton, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School; Timothy Hands, Magdalen College School, Oxford; Chris Ray, Manchester Grammar School; Jonathan Cox, Royal Grammar School, Guildford; Bernard Trafford; Royal Grammar School, Newcastle; Michael Gibbons, The Grammar School at Leeds; Edward Elliott, The Perse School; Timothy Haynes, Tonbridge School; Anthony Seldon, Wellington School
Other countries may well spend twice as much as we do on tourism, but they also charge tourists to visit their various attractions
Sir, Christopher Rodrigues cites France as an example of a country spending twice as much as the UK on tourism promotion (letter, June 19). This is no surprise: France and many other countries correctly charge tourists entrance and other fees, while we do not.
The Blair Government introduced free entry to museums and galleries as a post-election victory measure (along with trust funds for babies). Tourists must be delighted. Attractions they would visit in any event don’t cost them a penny.
Rather than cutting spending, surely revenue should and could be raised? A £5 admission fee per tourist (exempt admission on production of proof of UK residency) would surely raise millions of pounds and go a long way to solving the problem now facing museums and VisitBritain.
If we are going to test children at entry stage to secondary school, let us not do it directly after the long summer holiday
Sir, I am not surprised that Brett Prevost’s pupils (letter, June 18) fall short of their primary school achievements when tested at entry to secondary school. The start of the school year is the worst time to test any child. The summer holidays bring serious forgetfulness as a result of lack of practice, while September is the most unsettled part of the school year as children and teachers wrestle with new relationships and different expectations.
If we must test, November provides a better chance of accuracy.
SIR – Herefordshire council is planning to close all the public lavatories in the county and replace them with a wonderfully named Community Toilet Scheme. This is a scheme where shops open their lavatories to the public.
This is all very well, but in a county heavily reliant on the tourist trade, what will happen when two coaches, say, descend on Hereford and all the occupants (80 people in total) want to use facilities that will not now be available? This scheme is concocted by the Regulatory Services Programme Manager, if you can understand what that title means.
I suggest that members of the public who are caught short should go to Hereford Town Hall, where I am sure the staff would welcome people using the facilities provided by the hard-working taxpayers of Herefordshire.
Visit Herefordshire at your peril.
SIR – Ken Clarke seeks to present those of us who now question the efficacy of Britain remaining within the EU as “isolationist John Bulls” (“The Thatcherite case for staying in the EU”, Comment, June 18). Nothing could be further from the truth.
My reason for supporting the “out” cause is that the world is a very different place compared with 1972, when the Conservatives took us into the Common Market. The EU is now in economic and demographic decline. The problems of the eurozone will exacerbate the difficulties faced by those who remain trapped within an increasingly centralised political and fiscal union.
The Democracy Movement, the campaign that I co-chair, with David Nuttall, the Tory MP, supports an “out” vote in a referendum because it is our desire not only to maintain good trading and other relations with the EU, such as those enjoyed by Switzerland, but also to develop better political and economic ties with the rapidly expanding world beyond Europe.
We are not “little Englanders”, but neither are we “little Europeans” who want to shut our eyes to fast-changing realities.
Graham Stringer MP (Lab)
The county caught short by a council scheme
19 Jun 2013
SIR – I was surprised that Mr Clarke believes that America wouldn’t have much interest in a British-American Free Trade Agreement (FTA) if Britain was outside the EU. Australia has had an FTA with America since 2004, yet has only a third of the population of Britain.
Negotiations between America and Malaysia, with only half the population of Britain, began in 2006, and were only halted when Malaysia withdrew in 2009.
Lumut, Perak, Malaysia
SIR – It is difficult to support Ken Clarke’s view on EU membership when reminded of his failure to apologise for his error of judgment on Britain joining the euro.
SIR – Mr Clarke is right to celebrate the trade deal between Britain and America, pointing out that this is only possible thanks to Britain’s membership of the EU. Even extreme eurosceptics desire good trading links with the EU. Many believe this was the sole reason for Britain’s entry to the European Economic Community.
The trade deal promises cheaper imports from America and new markets for our own exports, thus being of real benefit to the ordinary citizen. Since this deal has only come about thanks to the collective clout of the EU, perhaps it is time to recognise that our membership is a good thing after all.
SIR – While Mr Clarke speaks of the damage to Britain caused by leaving the EU, he omits to mention the damage caused to Britain by remaining in it.
SIR – As someone who knows a lot about chemical weapons, I thoroughly agree with the scepticism of Philip Congdon (Letters, June 17) about their possible use in Syria.
I always understood that without immediate treatment (normally self-administered with a syringe), survival after inhalation of even a tiny amount of Sarin would be rare. Essentially a “nerve” agent, the symptoms of current Syrian victims described in the media do not accord with this – witness a fly zapped by a chemically similar spray which goes into an uncontrollable physical frenzy.
The method of delivery seems also to be amateur; we were shown what looked like a drum falling unguided from a helicopter. What the stream of smoke emanating from it was I do not know, unless they had taken the screw cap off it before dropping it out of a door. I should guess simply that a rogue element has acquired a commercial drum of insecticide and used a bit of private initiative.
There may of course be better evidence which the public do not know about, but to intervene in Syria on the basis of chemical warfare capability, even after the same excuse was wrongly used to justify the Iraq intervention, is nonsense.
Colonel David Whitaker (retd)
SIR – I suspect that those who favour arming the Syrian opposition forces have no real strategy for containing the retribution and score-settling that will undoubtedly occur if they are victorious.
Worthing, West Sussex
SIR – William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, supports the arming of “a democratic, responsible opposition” (report, June 18). But the opposition is unelected, hence undemocratic, and a composite of plain-clothed militias, therefore not responsible to anybody for individual secular and religious clans.
SIR – The problem I have with “banning rape images” (Letters, June 18) is that it actually translates to “banning images of adults having consensual sex”. I abhor any violence, and sexual violence could be dealt with via tougher sentencing penalties, improved sex education, or by encouraging parents to talk to their kids appropriately.
This is not child pornography, which should categorically be banned as children cannot give informed consent to participate; rather, “closing this loophole” is in fact preventing adults of legal age watching other adults of legal age having consensual sex. It would be a misapplication of our laws.
SIR – If internet service providers (ISPs) and social network sites carry rape images, then it is time we introduced a fee for them to access customers, as we do for radio, telephone and television. The terms of trade means that they have agreed to abide by UK law.
If the ISPs and social network sites were found guilty of carrying rape images then a fine would be given, and if it happened again the site would be taken down.
Founder, Oxford Internet Institute
SIR – The Telegraph crossword solves the dilemma of how to fill half an hour’s wait between trains (Letters, June 18).
SIR – The fate of a little woodland in Lyme Regis, Dorset, now known as Whistler’s Wood, will be decided tomorrow. Lyme was the home of my glass-engraver father Laurence Whistler from 1950 until 1978. He was the first to make lyrical and poetic landscape the purpose of glass-engraving. The narrow, bird-haunted woodland at the foot of our garden inspired some of his best effects of light through trees.
On leaving Lyme, my father tried to give the woodland to the community to protect it, but his gift was turned down. Now West Dorset District Council is considering a plan for two houses right in the wood. Although they have “eco-friendly” aspects, the buildings and car parking would make the woodland just a leafy suburb.
What makes this all the sadder to those who love Lyme is that a public-spirited offer has been made by a neighbour to buy and preserve the wood and open it to the public. My father would have loved that.
Weathering the storm
SIR – Those involved in the discussions on climate and weather (“Climate change risks ‘outweigh benefits’ ”, report, June 18) may like to look back on the diaries of Samuel Pepys. The following quotes were written in January 1661 and August 1663: “It is strange what weather we have had all this winter; no cold at all; but the ways are dusty and the flyes fly up and down.” Furthermore: “Cold all night and this morning, and a very great frost they say abroad, which is much, having had no summer at all almost.”
SIR – The Chronicle of the World records: “Famine in England following a wet autumn in 1314, a miserable summer in 1315 and torrential rain in 1316. Animals have died and salt pans have failed to evaporate.” How many similar climate events have occurred in recent history?
Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex
Opening the floodgates
SIR – The use of asphalt by Hugh Bebb’s local council (Letters, June 18) strikes a chord here. Our local council’s laying of asphalt over drains at Shiplate has been far from helpful in dealing with the run-off of water from the Mendips.
Contemplating a world without The Archers
SIR – Your correspondents (Letters, June 17) expressed what emotions they would suffer if The Archers was removed from the BBC’s schedule.
I suffered these same emotions when Dick Barton – Special Agent was removed from the BBC’s schedule in 1951, and was replaced by the Archers.
SIR – I invited good friends to supper on Friday at 7pm. They accepted, only on condition of arriving by 7.30 – post-Archers.
Were the BBC to remove it from the air, I suspect middle England would revolt, but at least I could serve supper on my terms.
SIR – I would be able to listen to the 2pm news without having to thump the off switch immediately afterwards to avoid being assailed by that dreadful theme tune.
SIR – The only way for characters to be visualised (Letters, June 14) is by reading. Radio distorts, with beautiful voices making characters attractive, as with Lilian Bellamy in The Archers.
Books are all in the imagination; when reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time, I found Mr Darcy was even more devastatingly handsome in my imagination than Colin Firth.
Sir, – The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) plans for Junior Cycle reform centre on 24 statements of learning that are meant to cover all areas of knowledge considered important at Junior Cycle level.
The defence put forward for removing geography and history as compulsory subjects is that: 1. They are not currently compulsory for all students, and 2. It would be impossible to deliver the new Junior Cycle without teaching geography and history. Both of these defences are flawed.
First, all students take history and geography either as whole subjects or as part of environmental and social studies. Nonetheless, the argument that not all students take the full subjects compulsorily, therefore none should, is a fallacy. History and geography are the building blocks not only of an individual’s cultural identity but also of a society’s. The reintroduction of compulsory history and geography in the new core curriculum in the United Kingdom is in part a response to the negative impact on societal identity and cohesion contributed to by the absence of these subjects since their removal from the core curriculum in the 1980s. In trying to build an education system for the 21st century, it is disturbing that Ireland would seek to replicate the failings of 1980s British education policy.
Second, the statements of learning are constructed in such a way that a systematic course of study of any subject – except English, Irish and Maths – can be dispensed with altogether if a school so chooses or if their staffing levels force them to. In fact, the draft Framework for Junior Cycle sought to do away with the idea of “subjects” altogether and adopted a notion called “curriculum units” instead.
While the NCCA is developing syllabuses in history and geography, there will be no requirement on schools to offer these courses. Instead, a school could opt to study, for example, famous mathematicians or the history of one local building and it would satisfy the history requirement of the Statements of Learning. Interesting though these examples are, they are not a substitute for a systematic course of study that allows students to acquire a full and deeper understanding of the world they will enter as young adults.
The value of history and geography speaks for itself. Their removal as compulsory subjects is a mistake and has little to do with traditional and contemporary notions of what constitutes an education. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The suggestion of removing history from the Junior Cert as a compulsory subject demonstrates an amazing misunderstanding of what education is. High quality education should “lead out” the mind to the full development of its potential. It is not primarily for the economic development of our society.
As we all know, adopted people have a deep need to know about their origins to help them understand who they are, so communities and countries have a need to know themselves if they are to have the self-confidence to function effectively in the wider context of the world.
Learning the histories of other peoples is crucial if we are to understand each other better and so come to effective ways of living together in constructive communities. Ignorance and isolation are sure routes to disaster.
Being a scientist, I appreciate full well the importance of science to the development of current societies at all levels and how important good science will be to the solving of so many serious problems the human race is storing up for itself. But to focus on science to the exclusion of subjects which bear so heavily on who and what we are will ultimately make worse the problems science is meant to solve. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The Minister for Health is determined to push through new legislation to charge all patients with private health insurance for using public hospital beds (Front page, June 15th). This, we are told, will push up premiums by 30 per cent by the end of next year. The Minister has accused the insurance companies of “scaremongering”, and suggested they need to do more to reduce costs. This confirms that this Minister, incredibly, has no understanding of the issues facing the sector.
The Minister’s colleague, the Tánaiste, either through ignorance or expediency, recently cited “excessive professional fees and hospital charges” as the reason premiums were soaring. In fact, professional fees have been reduced by approximately 30 per cent in the past four years, while premiums have been increasing. In addition, we learned in recent days that one of the largest private hospitals in the State lost €9.8 million in the last year, and that this is the norm for most private hospitals built in the last 10 years. It is hardly fair then to say that charges are excessive.
This begs the question – where do the Minister and the Tánaiste suggest the insurance companies start looking to cut costs?
The public health system is on life support, and is entirely dependent on income from private insurance companies to survive. This latest wheeze from the Minister is a blatant attempt to put his hand in the pocket of the insurance companies, essentially “double-dipping”, and is the only reason, as stated unambiguously by those insurance companies, as to why premiums are set to rise.
What the Minister is effectively saying is that if you have health insurance, you are not entitled to access public hospital facilities, even though your tax is already paying for it. This is a disgrace, and possibly unconstitutional, as it denies rights to those with insurance that are afforded to those without.
One obvious solution is the insurance companies should, with immediate effect, withdraw cover for all patients being treated in public hospitals. This would have the effect of reducing premiums significantly. It would also have the effect of freeing up beds and reducing waiting times in public facilities.
Of course, the Minister would then have to find other ways of funding his department and public health system.
The Minister should be encouraging people to take out insurance premiums. Not inhibiting them. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – All the cynicism and begrudgery must be set aside, and Bono should be applauded for sending an important message to Senator McCain and his colleagues.
How could Ireland possibly be a “tax haven”, when the First Lady of the United States is greeted by an Irishman whose companies have moved out of Ireland, in order to legally avoid the Irish tax regime?
Whisht! Better not tell Apple et al! – Yours, etc,
Dundalk, Co Louth.
Sir, – Pity the unfortunate Obama children. Forced to watch Riverdance, assaulted by midges in Wicklow and locked into a public house in Dalkey with Bono for two hours (Home News, June 18th & 19th).They now deserve a vacation. – Yours, etc,
Phibsborough, Dublin 7.
Sir, – Did Bono go dutch on his lunch engagement?
Dr MARTIN RYAN,
Rathgar, Dublin 6.
A chara, – One trip to the old sod by Mrs Obama and progeny? Millions. The resultant boost to our economy? Even more millions. The sulky look on the two girls’ faces as they are dragged from one photo opportunity to another? Priceless! – Is mise,
Revd Fr PATRICK G
Sir, – Deputy John McGuinness must wish that he was born in the USA.
President Obama gets to bring the wife and kids on the trip – they even get a big airplane all to themselves – and not a PAC inquiry in sight!
God Bless America. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – In Turkey thousands of people have been protesting because a government decided to turn a peaceful park into a shopping centre without taking heed of people’s concerns. This Friday lunchtime hundreds of people will be protesting outside Dublin Castle because our Government has not understood the devastating impact that wind turbines are having on local communities in Ireland.
People are concerned about the noise and visual pollution from wind turbines, and they are wondering if they will ever be able to sell their family home once turbines are erected nearby. Several Irish families have already spoken out publicly about the negative impact living beside a wind farm has had on their quality of life and mental health.
It is a sad reflection on our senior politicians that they appear to be more comfortable being photographed in the company of wind energy developers than talking to people negatively impacted by wind farms. Lets hope they respond differently to Friday’s protest than the cold shoulder given by the Turkish government to its unfortunate citizens. – Yours, etc,
MIKE de JONG,
* It has been reported on RTE news that Michael Noonan, our Finance Minister, has admitted “that mistakes were made with the troika”. Is this just a mirroring of the IMF/troika stance in Greece or is it actual remorse? Is it the realisation that people can bear such a damaging burden only for so long, or quite simply world events overtaking failed policies? Some examples:
Also in this section
A thank you for supporting us and brave Donal
What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually
An Irish sort of logic
* The reported statement from George Osborne that the UK, our biggest trading partner, could be in recession for another two years?
* The recent release of US multinational tax information, which shows that some multinationals are paying in effect 0pc tax and others less than 12pc, whilst the Irish taxpayer pays 32pc.
* The decision by the world’s central banks to ease off on pumping money into economic systems.
* Or, the impending German court ruling on the legality of the ECB’s bond buying, as it is believed that it has overstepped its mandate.
Multiple mistakes were made by the previous government and have been compounded by Mr Noonan and his colleagues in the Coalition.
But they now have an opportunity to start reversing this by making public the reported letter from Jean Claude Trichet to the previous government.
The Irish taxpayer has paid dearly to date. Clearly the troika does not have the mandate to force a sovereign state into its control and use it as a buffer to stop EU banking contagion.
The Irish taxpayer also has the right to all information on the state-guaranteed banks, no matter what their names have been changed to.
The taxpayer has the right to know what loans/mortgages were taken out by politicians, their families, or business partners and/or their political party.
As the banks have been bailed out by the taxpayer, we have the right to this information by law.
REILLY UNFIT FOR OFFICE
* We are told that the Health Minister James Reilly is determined to push through new legislation to charge all patients with private health insurance for using public hospital beds. This, we are told, will push up premiums by 30pc. Dr Reilly has accused the insurance companies of “scaremongering” and suggested that they need to do more to reduce costs. This confirms that the minister has no understanding of the issues facing the sector, and is unfit for office.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, either through ignorance or expediency, recently cited “excessive professional fees and hospital charges” as the reason why premiums were soaring. He would do well to note that professional fees have been reduced by approximately 30pc in the past four years, while premiums have been increasing.
In addition, we learned last week that one of the largest private hospitals in the State has lost €9.8m in the last year, and that this is the norm for most private hospitals built in the last 10 years. It is hardly fair then to say that charges are excessive.
This begs the question – where do Dr Reilly and Mr Gilmore suggest the insurance companies start looking to cut costs?
The public health system is on life-support and is entirely dependent on income from private insurance companies to survive. This latest wheeze from the minister is a blatant attempt to put his hand in the pocket of the insurance companies and is the only reason, as stated unambiguously by those insurance companies, why premiums are set to rise.
One obvious solution is this: the insurance companies should, with immediate effect, withdraw cover for all patients being treated in public hospitals. This would have the effect of reducing premiums significantly. It would also have the effect of freeing up beds and reducing waiting times in public facilities.
IT CUTS BOTH WAYS, ENDA
* The speech by President John F Kennedy (September 12, 1960), on which the Taoiseach based his statement about being a Taoiseach who happens to be Catholic and not a Catholic Taoiseach, also stated: “But if the time ever came when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.”
* I watch the passion of the abortion debate with bemusement and sadness.
If only we could harness the same passion in the name of child welfare.
What a wonderful State for children we would be.
* If a doctor, in spite of repeated warnings and evidence-based advice from peers, were to persist with a dangerous form of treatment which placed the lives of patients at risk, he or she would be rightly struck off the medical register and denied the right to practise.
It is ironic that elected members of the Oireachtas are being threatened with denial of their right to exercise their profession, precisely for opposing a dangerous form of treatment. The Government, with the published Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, is setting out to establish in law a method of treatment for suicidal ideation in pregnancy which is not supported by medical evidence, which places the health of the mother at risk and which will certainly either end the life of her baby or be the cause of possibly catastrophic disability.
As doctors, we must again protest against this Government’s deliberate denial of the facts and remind members of the Oireachtas that, if this bill becomes law, they cannot transfer responsibility for its outcome to the medical and nursing professions. It will be their legacy and theirs alone.
HAVING A BALL IN EUROPE
* Colombian poet Raffael Brochero is “offering his testicles to anyone who will fund his trip to Europe” (Irish Independent, June 17). One hopes that if the trip materialises he will indeed have a ball.
THE WRITE WAY?
* With regard to the piece by Mary Kenny (Irish Independent, June 17), I feel the lady needs to consult a dictionary.
My ‘Little Oxford’ defines the word ‘icon’ as “sacred painting, mosaic, image, statue”, which is hardly applicable to Homo Sapiens?
HISTORY IS NOT BUNK
* I am appalled that a country once so proud of its military and political achievements can now consider getting rid of history as a compulsory Junior Cert subject. History is a key building block to any pupil’s education. We will develop a generation for whom the names Charles Stewart Parnell, Padraig Pearse and Michael Collins will become alien words.